MindMapper 4.5 Professional

MindMapper 4.5 Professional
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If you're prepared to put in the time, MindMapper could sort out the lives of busy people.

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Price: $180
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Requirements Windows 98, 2000, XP, NT. Price - $180 Upgrade - $60 (from version 3)

Like a project management tool for your brain.

Verdict If you're prepared to put in the time, MindMapper could sort out the lives of busy people.

If you're one of those people who constantly has ideas and then writes them down on random bits of scrap paper or types them into hastily-created text files saved in spurious locations on random computers, then MindMapper could be for you. New features in version 4.5 add several new collaboration and scheduling functions. But what does it do?

Essentially MindMapper is a blank screen. On this screen you can simply start typing your ideas on an unlimited white space. If an idea is connected with another you can link the two with various arrows. You can also put each entry into a different container - like a cloud or arrow.

Others may prefer to make workflow diagrams - ideal for project management. If you've scheme to organise you can have sequential branches emanating from a central point and assign each a date. The timeline is then shown at the top of the screen.

In practice it's very simple to just open and use and instructional videos, replete with animations, are included too. However, it's not the most polished application - the icons and interface aren't up to the polished standard that MS Office has got us used to. The timeline isn't the easiest to discern from a quick glance and the shear number of toolbars and windows take some getting used to. The large number of drop down menu commands and instructions like 'Floating Topic', 'Relation' and 'Scenario' also take some getting used to. But if you're prepared to put the time in, the results can be rewarding.

When you're at the stage where everything you need is laid down in one place you can export to various MS Office applications, via dedicated icons. These launch small wizards which offer (what are initially confusing) options on how you want data transferred. In Word, our three-tiered branch structure, on first attempt, reappeared as a confusing list. With a bit of work it appeared as a slightly less-confusing list. Clicking on the Outlook icon transfers all scheduled data to Outlook's Tasks area. You can also export to MS Project, though if you own that you probably won't be using this.

All in all, if you're fed up with you or your company's organisational skills and have found other software wanting, MindMapper is a decent bet. It's $800 less than MS Project and PC Authority readers save an extra 10 percent by quoting the code, 'Urban' when purchasing. Ultimately, though, MindMapper finds itself in the peculiar situation where it requires a significant investment in time and effort to make the most out of it -- something that the target market generally won't have. But it's a good bet for those familiar with project managers, or MindMapper users wanting to upgrade to the new features.

This Review appeared in the March, 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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